Friday, June 14, 2013

Weekend Blooms, and the Sad Tale of a Cornsnake

I can't believe it yet, but my Russian Sunflowers are actually blooming on a sand dune. My sand dune!

Sunflowers need so much water and nutrition, and we have neither. But I've put a lot of effort into them, and they bloom. It's interesting that they are dwarves, even with lots of fertilizer and water given by me every morning. They know their environment, and know that they should bloom at 1.25m height, not 3m. The flowers are smaller, but they don't topple over in our high winds. How do they know this when they are genetically programmed to be 3m high, with 0.5 meter wide blooms?

A species more used to harsh conditions is blooming, also. Here's a lovely magma-colored aloe flower spike:
Gorgeous against the grey of the Panda Plant behind it. So it's been a good week, flower-wise. But we've had a sad story here, about a beautiful Florida Cornsnake named Jerry.
RIP Jerry
Jerry appeared in our garden this month. He was a beautiful Cornsnake, about 4 feet (3.3m) long, and very gentle and friendly. Everyone in the neighborhood knew him. He went after lizards and rats, and since we don't really like those in our attics, we all thought Jerry was OK. But as it turned out, Jerry was not a wild snake (they are natives here in Florida), but a captive snake abandoned by someone in the neighborhood. He was no longer nocturnal in his habits and was only a little bit shy to humans. A wild cornsnake is someone you'll never see up close in the daytime! We didn't know what to do for Jerry, we were all talking about him...but then one morning we found him in the middle of the street, run over by a car in the night. Everyone felt awful. Please, people, if you have a pet reptile and can't keep it anymore, find out where he/she can be sheltered until a new guardian can be found. "Freeing a pet into the wild" is a death sentence. RIP Jerry.

NOTE: I've received some emails about Jerry, offering condolences and letting me know that in the US, Animal Control will have info on reptile-friendly shelters, and that they can capture snakes. Jerry was a conundrum for us in that cornsnakes are natives here, and fairly common. We thought Jerry was a former pet because of his unusual behavior, but we had no way to prove it. Still, next time I'll certainly call Animal Control and make sure any pet snake "released into the wild" gets to a shelter!


  1. Indeed RIP Jerry. When I was at the University our office was near a field and woodland and we would often have snakes (usually black snakes)get into the hallway of the building. I could usually tell when this happened by the shrieks and screams. I was the resident snake catcher. I used a butterfly net to move the snakes back outside.

    The aloe flower against the kalanchoe is such a nice contrast. Which aloe? My aloe aristata finished flowering about two weeks ago and now has seed pods.

    Yes, and I like sunflowers too, but mine are only about 18 inches high, so I have a way to go before the flowers arrive.

    1. Most people certainly do freak out around snakes, but I try to think of the snake's view- big, clumsy primates like skyscrapers, freaking out and threatening to club or step on him; poor snake! I've read that captive snakes are usually only kept a year by their owners, then "freed" or given away. Since a snake can live 40 years, that's pretty tough for the snakes. Of course, invasive pythons are doing very well in the Everglades, that's a horrible story!
      No idea which aloe it is, it had no label, but it's a spotted dwarf variety.